Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Neil Young and Crazy Horse
w/ Patti Smith and The Sadies
Scotiabank Place, Ottawa

Neil came through Toronto but Patti wasn't with him.
We have some friends in Ottawa we haven't seen in awhile.
So it's on the road again.

Two nights at the idyllic Dewar's Inn on the banks of the St Lawrence are just an added bonus.

The Sadies, the Godchildren of Grunk, were an unexpected surprise for the 2nd Runner Up spot. Love that surf guitar sound. They got to play to an arena 3/4 full as the Ottawa patrons were here early, in good numbers.

The reason they are so appreciative is that not every act comes through this town of one million inhabitants. A good deal of the big acts do, that's why Neil is here. Many of the middle acts, or cult acts, don't get near this burgh. Toronto, yes. Montreal, maybe. But that's usually it. Which is why this is Ottawa's first chance to be treated to Patti's set.

Saw Patti Smith for the first time in April of 2010 at Tipitina's, New Orleans. She opened with The Ronettes Be My Baby, covered Jim Carroll's People Who Died, and was joined onstage by Peter Buck and Michael Stipe for a rendition of Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman with REM frontman Stipe reading the lyrics off his I-Phone. I had no expectation this opening set in an arena was going to surpass that event. She was terrific. At 62 she dances up a storm on stage. It's life affirming to see her standing there, having survived her times, her environment, the tragedies close to her, to stand tall as the Godmother of Punk, representing the best and purist aspirations of that artistic sub-culture. She embodies the most noble attributes of that time; inclusiveness and personal freedom. She's no slacker. Sid Vicious was a punk, he had nothing to do with the revolutionary side of the punk movement. This lady is the real deal.

She starts by acknowledging the crowd response, noting she's never played Ottawa, and is at full speed and strong voice immediately as she launches into the anthemic Dancing Barefoot.  Her yelps are in good order early. Next a new song from 2012's Banga, with an old promise to break some rules.  April Fool could have been written 30 years ago, a love song. She follows directly with another new song, a prayer to mother nature and the great white mountain, Fuji-San, taking care of any obligation she felt to promote her new material and help Al Gore save the world.

The best Neil Young song of the night comes next as she covers a song from Prairie Wind, It's A Dream. Big quiet arena taking this in, she has 'em where she wants them.

1996 saw Patti dealing with some hardships especially the deaths of many friends and contemporaries, including her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith, her brother Todd, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Sohl and Kurt Cobain, for whom she wrote Beneath the Southern Cross.

That's it for the soft stuff and the shoe-gazing. Now it's on to some fun. A little leftist bait for the post-hippy audience, People Have the Power tries to wake us up to our reality.

The night closes with two songs that just wash over you in a wave of familiarity, can't help but be transported to simpler times when the celebratory Because the Night blasts into the cavernous hall.G-L-O-R-I-A was the perfect cap to a shortened headliner set.

Neil is, well, Neil. A bit of a chameleon. I prefer the CSN&Y version to the Greendale version. The early '70's Massey Hall or Shocking Pink rockabilly Neil were perfectly acceptable. You never know what he's bringing. The Crazy Horse Neil is familiar, that whole Rust Never Sleeps record and all. But on the stage, a couple decades later, it's like he's putting the DUL into self-indulgence. I like the songs well enough, especially the more familiar Needle and the Damage Done,  Hey Hey My My and Cinnamon Girl. The new song, Born In Ontario goes over real well here, perhaps better than when he's in the US or out west and it's a fun song. The excessive guitar mash ups throughout the show, 5  minute sonic grudge matches to close out songs, sapped a little of the life out of the evening. 'Course it did allow you to sneak a quick nap during some songs without missing anything. In fact, during Walk Like A Giant, (22:22) I was able to leave the venue, drive to the Parliament Buildings for some photo's, fill up my tank, grab a coffee at Timmy's and get back in time for Needle.

Below are some sound samples, including Patti's complete set, 'cause like I said at the beginning, I wouldn't have been here if she wasn't.

The Sadies

Lay Down Your Arms
Another Year Again
Cut Corners
Rat Creek(I)
Leave Me Alone
Higher Power
Tell Her What I Said
Ridge Runner Reel (I)
Tiger Tiger

Patti Smith

Dancing Barefoot (Wave, 1979) (#323 of Top 500 Singles, Rolling Stone)
April Fool (Banga, 2012)
Fuji-san (Banga, 2012)
It's A Dream (Neil Young cover)
Beneath the Southern Cross (Gone Again, 1996)
People Have the Power (Dream of Life, 1988)
Because the Night (Easter, 1978)
Oath/G-L-O-R-I-A (Horses, 1975 Them cover)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse    

O Canada (Calixa Lavallée cover)
Love and Only Love (Ragged Glory, 1990)
Powderfinger (Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)
Born In Ontario (Pyschedelic Pill, 2012)
Walk Like a Giant
Needle and the Damage Done (Harvest, 1972)
Twisted Road
Singer Without a Song
Ramada Inn (Psychedelic Pill, 2012)
Cinnamon Girl (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1969)
Fuckin' Up (Ragged Glory, 1990)
Cortez the Killer
Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield song)
Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) (Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)
Roll Another Number (for the Road)

Monday, November 19, 2012

C R Avery and the Madison 22 Review
3 Nights of Debauchery in So Ont
November 2012

Got CR Avery being backed by the Hamilton Philharmonic for a quick set this summer but it's been a lean year of music out of the man from East Van.

He's bringing his dancing friends along to entertain, titillate and warm your cockles this winter. While burlesque may not be a lost art someone has definitely misplaced it. A refreshing change to see titillation in place of the no-secrets exposure the internet provides.

We're at the same old haunts; The Pearl in Hamilton, The Rivoli and Dakota in Toronto. I go on ad nauseum about CR but you only have to see him once to be converted. The beauty of it is when you see him for the first time I'll be seeing him for the first time too...or this incarnation. It's never boring and never the same. He's been through town as a solo artist, with a stand up bass supporting him, with a full rock band, with a string quartet, with a gospel backing group, with a full philharmonic orchestra and now...with a burlesque show. Next year I expect knee cymbals.

November 15,2012
Night one sees The Pearl Company Theater packed to capacity.  CR moves from banjo to piano to carnival barker, as the evening requires. A lot of new songs tonight and the older ones are re-arranged, especially the smash hit-single of 2015, Dungeon of Love. Good show, if a little subdued for CR.

November 16,2012
The Rivoli on Queen St West loves CR Avery. And he loves it back. Everyone is excited tonight. Friends and family mix with fans and fanatics. Some are little more excited than others and forget they are in a public place, not their living room, but that's Friday night in TO. 

Opening the set is rock-a-billy sweetheart Ginger St James. An unexpected gift. Think I'll vote for CR.

November 17,2012
Travel issues tonight. Left a little later than normal and walk in just as Ginger is getting into her opening set. I like her.

CR is peaking tonight. Three times he walked into the audience for an unplugged song. When on the stage he was bombastic, improvising more than he has the past couple nights. I'm Canadian gets a new verse. No Anne Murray intro to Dinner For One, short set tonight as The Rizdales take the stage at 10. He does take the time for a salacious harp solo.

Set List: (same all 3 nights except for the addition of one poem at The Dakota)

Motel (50 Miles Out of Town) - banjo
Midnight Gold Mining -w/ Madison 22 and band
Explicit Lyrics - piano, band
I'm Canadian - band
Big in Japan - w/ Sassfarilla Fox
4 AM Text - guitar, unplugged in audience
Smooth Operator - CR on chair, Madison 22 and band on vocals
Dinner For One (piano, band)
Blues Harp - Madison 22 Review dance
Solemn Promist To You That I Keep - piano,band
Poems     - Thin Walls 95.3 FM
    - New Messiah
    - Do They Know How To Play Zombie Zoo?
    - A Crowd Favourite Under the Big Top Takes on the World (Dakota only)
    - Pretty Simple Funeral Arrangements
Heart Is As Black As Night - piano,band, Sassfarilla Fox Black Swan dance
Where Cain and Abel Are Buried -banjo, unplugged in audience
Dungeon of Love

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bob Dylan
w/ Mark Knopfler

So Bob's NOT touring his new album and Mark's only playing a song a night from his Dire Straits days and seldom any of the 3 I might recognize.

Wish that was the other way around. For reasons unknown Dylan has released a new album, Tempest, playing one song from it on the opening night of the tour, Scarlet Town, and it took him 20 or so shows before he played a second, Early Roman Kings, last Wednesday in St Paul. Dylan continued to leave the community flummoxed as he opens his Chicago show with an instrumental. After a couple of days thinking it might have been a mash-up of Watching the River Flow, Rainy Day Women #12&35, LSPH or some random blues chords, it was decided it was an homage to Obama's victory, Robert Johnson's Sweet Home Chicago?. Then the night before Toronto he breaks out his 3rd song from the new record, Pay in Blood.

Pay In Blood on youtube

Not that Bob has been stingy with the song selection. Lots of great wildcards; Mississippi, Visions of Johanna, Chimes of Freedom, Every Grain of Sand, Dignity,  You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, Delia(!), and on Wednesday nights, Joey.Those last two I've never seen live (by Dylan) and I'm nearing 150 shows now.

So how is Bob these days? Well you'd be hard-pressed to find any review of his music, from 1962 forward, where his singing voice was being praised. For decades now he's been playing the anti-rock star; touring incessantly but never giving the audience what they expect. Since June 2005 he hasn't given me much to write home about but others have kept up the pace. That makes me this decades Mr Jones.

Here's a sampling from a recent Grand Prairie, Texas show:

"No one in popular music is more worthy of hero worship than Dylan, and no one fails with such regularity to live up to it onstage."
" Dylan’s piano solos often sounded like amateur hour at an old Western honky-tonk..."
"Dylan’s gargling rasp of voice continues to decompose in unpredictable ways. At 71, he now sounds as eerie as a Delta bluesmen, but at other times, his singing bordered on comic. His recitation of “Girl from the North Country” sounded like William Shatner’s notorious reading of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”"
" A small but steady stream of fans left as the show progressed -- satisfied to have seen their hero, but not worshipful enough to stick with him until the very end."

But that's Texas, you may say, what about a place that loves liberals, like Hollywood, CA?

" We lasted through two Dylan Songs. His voice is gone and the sound was terrible. We left along with a lot of other disapointed people. Walking to the car it sounded different, like it was pre-recorded."

Or Berkeley, CA. Surely the home of Free Speech must still be in love with the voice of their generation?

"The bottom has fallen out on Dylan’s voice—he now croaks out songs with a fierce rasp, his thin, acidic singing voice of the 60’s long gone."

err, guess not. But wait, there's always the fan sites.

"on "Love Sick," it looked as if Bob at first was going to sing center stage with harp, but he abruptly turned and made haste slowly, like an early Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, and moving with the just-finished dignity, to the piano. There his sounds created just the right atmosphere for "Love Sick." We could hear the excruciatingly painful tick tock of time endured by the lover. Feel ourselves haunted by streets that are dead, silhouettes and thunderous silence. Understand the desire to be rid of the loved one causing such torment--wishing the past could be altered, wishing that forgetting could win out. And the closing overwhelming desire to be with the lover's source of pain. Throughout the song the band's full sound was relentlessly stark, emotionally brutal."

" For me all I can say is I'm glad I was in the 3rd row and close enough to see the "play within the play". At this point I would say the Dylan show is more vaudevillian at heart with a crack band providing a sometimes sonic but more often brooding landscape for Bob to play a spooky carnival barker right out of some Roger Corman B-Movie."

Yikes, there seems to be a contrast in opinions.

Guess I'll have to make up my own mind. I haven't seen Bob since the fall of 2010, since I weaned myself off that compulsive need to attend his shows...looking forward to this one.

Mark Knopfler refuses to play old songs and he tells us so part way through his set. He didn't suck and a couple of these songs were outstanding, saving the crowd-pleasing Dire Straits song for the encore.

What It Is
Corned Beef City
Kingdom of Gold
I Used to Could
Song for Sonny Liston
Done With Bonaparte
Hill Farmer’s Blues
Haul Away


So Far Away

Bob's not shy about rearranging his songs. The stage set up is dark and the players are back quite a bit. For the casual fans who haven't been to a show in 15 years they were probably wondering why the guitar wielding Bob was staying so far back and why didn't he hire a real piano player. Thing is that was Tony Garnier, bass player, in the center of the stage and dapper Bob on the keys.

The Toronto press absolutely slammed this show. Of course I remember when they were fawning over the last two albums so I don't hold their opinion in high regard. They are about 5 years late on the moaning about how boring the show is and they are on the wrong side of the curve. This is the most interesting show I've seen since Freddy Koella left the band. All the rest is true; the voice sucks, lighting is dismal, the band is handcuffed and Bob never engages his audience. But the songs are drastically rearranged and there's no mistaking something is happening here, even if we don't know what it is.

Toronto, Ontario
Air Canada Centre

November 14, 2012

1.     You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
2.     Man In The Long Black Coat (with Mark Knopfler on guitar)
3.     Things Have Changed (with Mark Knopfler on guitar)
4.     Tangled Up In Blue (with Mark Knopfler on guitar)
5.     Early Roman Kings
6.     Joey
7.     Rollin' And Tumblin'
8.     Visions of Johanna
9.     Highway 61 Revisited
10.     Sugar Baby
11.     Thunder On The Mountain
12.     Ballad Of A Thin Man
13.     Like A Rolling Stone
14.     All Along The Watchtower
15.     Blowin' In The Wind

Amanda Palmer Kickstarts TO
Phoenix Concert Theater

Amanda Palmer has been a busy girl since she was last through Toronto touring her Evelyn Evelyn piece. She's fully into the married life, had some serious party time down under, became a Kickstarter heroine and villainess all at once, put a new record together, Theater Is Evil, and is now touring with her cabaret-cum-busker-goth-orchestra troupe. She is a tireless dynamo and can blog the pants off anyone. She has survived the misery of her record company break-up, surpassed the promise of The Dresden Dolls, and emerged as a pioneer in the new artist-fan paradigm, one that takes out the middle man, the record company.

I think I even saw a piece online where she sold her virginity for $748,000.00 to an AntArctican penguin farmer.

Amanda is booked for 2013's Coachella Festival. I'm guessing she gets a 4 pm slot. Anything earlier would mean the organizers don't have their ear to the music. A later set time would show the proper respect for what she can bring to the stage.

After a brief stint in Europe this Toronto show is the first of the North American leg. It  coincides with the release of her ground breaking video for Do It With A Rock Star. Unfortunately we don't get that song in the set, even though it was on the cue sheet, likely due to the time taken up to wish a Happy Birthday to Neil via naked bodies painted to spell out the best wishes. Neil, you see, was in Paris. Fans wishing Neil well

Love the new record. It opens with an instrumental theme, a big orchestral cacophony of sound and quickly gets into Amanda's quirky observations on life, love, popular culture and death. Lot's of death. 

The night opens with a short set by the bass player and orchestral arranger. He's got a quartet of strings to accompany his electric bass. The crowd was won over by the end of  the opening track. Kind of like surf-grunge guitar, but with a bass.

The guitar lead on Amanda's backing band get a few songs to spotlight his band. All sorts of strangeness on stage. Every player a character, all loveable. It's like the cover of Dylan's Basement Tapes landed on your stage.There's a spirit to this tour that evokes  Bob's Rolling Thunder tour.

Amanda is a star. She's been onstage throughout, introducing the opening acts, organizing Neil's naked people thing, watching and cheering from the side stage. Every time she steps forward the beyond-enthusiastic crowds cheers loudly her movements and words.

A couple artistic treats in the set. Amanda exits stage left for a wardrobe change. She returns in a lengthy, clingy, gown and proceeds to enter the audience for a little crowd surfing. The gown begins to expand as she makes her way over a wave of fans. It creates a canopy that covers the floor as she moves from the stage to the soundboard and back. Very cool. And I got to touch her butt. Open hand, no grasping. Proper crowd surfing etiquette was displayed by all.

For the encore the band made their way to the balcony, climbing the rails to perform to the flashlight wielding multitude in the pit, an unplugged reprise of Want It Back.

And that's all she wrote. Here's the set list with a selection of songs.
 (NOTE: This recording is a little 'hot'. I did not do a good job gauging my levels tonight.)

 A Grand Theft Intermission
 Smile (Pictures or It Didn't Happen)
 The Killing Type
 Want It Back
 Missed Me
 (The Dresden Dolls cover)
 (Amanda Palmer cover)
 Grown Man Cry
 The Bed Song
 Trout Heart Replica
 Neil's B-Day Moment
 Melody Dean
 Girl Anachronism
 (The Dresden Dolls cover)
 Want It Back
 (from balcony)

And here's a link to some videos on youtube, 'cause lookin' at Amanda is almost as good as hearing her.

Amanda Palmer on YOUTUBE

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jack White
SONY Center
2012-10-03 & 04

Special set up at the SONY, they've taken out the orchestra seats to create a pit. It's loud up front.

Jack's got his girl band (The Peacocks) and his boy band (The Los Buzzardos) getting their own evening, instead of splitting a set like they do at the festivals. Caught this act at Lollapalooza. It's no White Stripes (what is?) but it's more Jack than you get with The Raconteurs or Dead Weather, and that's not a bad thing.

He's touring his debut 'solo' album, Blunderbuss, but the whole catalogue gets an airing.

Jack caused a little stir in New York where he performed a Saturday night show at Radio City Music Hall and did a non-core. A 55 minute set. Some boo's were heard. Blasphemy! Don't know what caused it. Reasons range from 'terrible sound' to 'inattentive audience'. Smart money is coming down on 'Jack did a diva thing 'cause he doesn't like people playing with cell phones while he's onstage.'

I don't either but no one is paying me so I have to suck it up. Speaking of paying, at $78.10 (before Ticketbastard service charges) this is the priciest Jack ticket I've bought. At least it's not an arena, this venerable concert hall has a 3,100 capacity.

When the twits got going on twitter there was substantial backlash that had little to do with this particular incident. Apparently some think that Jack is over-rated. Others think he's a prima donna. I think he's angry but no one's paying me to psycho-analyze him either, so let us get to the first show.

Wednesday Oct 3 - with my daughter, in the pit.

Pokey LaFarge opens...what's that mean? Hank Williams meets George Clooney in Brother, Wherefore Art Thou? High quality opening act, will catch him for sure when he tours solo. Down home roots music with a booming, slapping stand up bass and harmonica swirls on almost every track. Kazoo's and washboards too. Great porch music.

When My Baby Comes To Town
Ain't the Same
Chitlin' Cookin' Time in Cheatham County
Central Time
Drinkin' Whiskey Tonight
Hard Times Come, Hard Times Go
Home Away From Home (Louisville)
Move Outa Town

Brief announcement before Jacks set . Put your cellphones away. To no avail. The people in their seats and standing in the pit 20 minutes before the band comes on are not your problem. It's the crowd speed-drinking in the lobby that's going to cause a scene.

We got the girl band tonight, all resplendent in white. It's a big band. Back up singer and Miss Tambourine Girl, soulful and exotic, Ruby Amanfu, lends her vocal charms to a lot more than the duet on Love Interruption. Her voice meshes well with Jack's and it allows her to take some lines from other songs, with a lovely effect of seeing Jack spin around on stage for a guitar flourish as his song continues to be sung. The lady on drums must have 4 arms, Carla Azar is fast and doesn't lack for power. She's more of a maximalist than a minimalist behind the kit. 5 feet of power on the fiddle, Lillie Mae Rische, shines on Hotel Yorba but except for the odd solo with Jack, gets lost a little in the sonic boom that is the noise coming off the stage. The Crimson Flame on keyboards,  Brooke Waggoner, slaps the keys in the best tradition of bar-room boogie blues. On stand up bass, more slapping like we're at a '50's sock hop, courtesy of the tall-drink-of-water that is Catherine Popper replacing Bryn Davies,on maternity leave. Rounding out the band, a  blonds-are-more-fun Danish woman on pedal steel,  Maggie Bj√∂rklund...cause we know country rules in the lowlands and every young Danish girl wants to grow up to be Pete Drake.

I like Jack's interaction with the girls. It's flirtatious, fun to watch. The girls bring it, this is not The Ronettes.
Most extreme display is during Top Yourself when Jack goes girl-to-girl with the refrain : "how you gonna rock yourself to sleep / when I give up my midnight creep?", calling them by name as they go into their solo.
Jack also had some fun with the audience as they were coming in too soon on the chorus for I Guess I Should Go To Sleep. Jacks likes a pregnant pause on the last two words but the audience couldn't wait. After a couple of false starts and some training...they nailed it.

Missing Pieces
Sixteen Saltines
*Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground/Cannon tease
Love Interruption
*Hotel Yorba
Top Yourself
Weep Themselves To Sleep
Cannon/John The Revelator/Cannon
Hello Operator
I Cut Like A Buffalo
Band Intro
I Guess I Should Go To Sleep
We're Going To Be Friends
*Screwdriver/ Blue Blood Blues
*I'm Slowly Turning Into You
Ball And Biscuit
encore break
Freedom At 21
Steady, As She Goes
*Broken Boy Soldier
Seven Nation Army
*Goodnight, Irene

Thursday October 4, 2012

At the back of the orchestra tonight...easier on the ears, not so good for the sight-lines. It's all 'stand up' from the moment Jack hits the stage. Not as many different songs as I would have liked. Nice to get Catch Hell Blues and Same Boy You've Always Known.

The Los Buzzardo's are not as interesting to look at as the girl band.

Highlight of the evening came early with the opera that was Cannon/Sixteen Saltines/Cannon/Wasting My Time/Cannon. A Jack show without Cannon is no show at all but this is getting ridiculous but in a good way, like bad or sick.
Not as much talking from Jack this evening, all business,.

Missing Pieces
Cannon/Sixteen Saltines/Cannon
Wasting My Time/Cannon
Freedom At 21
Love Interruption
Top Yourself
I Cut Like A Buffalo
I Guess I Should Go to Sleep
The Same Boy You've Always Known
Blue Blood Blues
Steady, As She Goes
Two Against One
We're Going to Be Friends
Weep Themselves to Sleep/Broken Boy Soldier tease
Hello Operator
Ball and Biscuit

The Hardest Button to Button
Take Me With You When You Go
Catch Hell Blues
Seven Nation Army (incomplete)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

John Fogerty
SONY Center
Toronto ON

John Fogerty is going the route of a handful of other artists that our touring complete album recreations. In Toronto we get Cosmos Factory. Who could ask for anything more?

Opening tonight is Willie Nelson's boy, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. I first saw Lukas when he was 15 or 16 on tour with his dad's band. They were opening for Bob Dylan on the 2004 Ballpark Summer Tour. Lukas played with Willie's band and got one song for himself, Texas Flood. He was well loved by the Bob-mothers following the tour. He even got to come back onstage with Dylan's band, lending some support on I Shall Be Released.

None of that slow ballad stuff for the kid. It's blues, it's rock, it's music not for old people. Pretty impressive sounding set, if a little short. Nice trick following Sympathy for the Devil with and instrumental Amazing Grace. Really enjoyed the opening song, bit of a twist on a Dylan title, Forever Is A Four Letter Word. He channels him a little later with a 'farm' reference reminiscent of the hold Maggies Farm had on Bob. Rockin' guitar, lots of head bobbing, some playing with his teeth and a somersault to end the show. I've added him to my list of "tours to keep an eye on in case they come to your town or somewhere you want to go".

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
SONY Center
Toronto ON
(opening for John Fogerty)

t01 Forever Is a Four Letter Word
t02    Ain't No Answer
t03    Wasted
t04 Sympathy For the Devil
t05 Amazing Grace
t06    Start to Go

Fogerty is a treat. The show is 2 hours of  pure joy. The set opens fast and furious with a runaway Travelin' Band. From there we get the complete, if not in order, Cosmos Factory. Just an amazing trip back in time when albums meant something from start to end.

Not really much to add when you look at the songs. For me, the show is always about the songs. Seldom do I notice, let alone comment on, the other elements of a live rock show...lighting and special effects. Fogerty put some effort into this tour. We have seven screens on the stage, used to add context to the songs or just show the band. Best put to use on Long As I Can See the Light as Fogerty was surrounded by hundreds of projected candles as he stood on the risers. And smoke cannons, dry ice and pyro-technics. The flame throwers could be felt 8 rows back of center stage.

Some memorable moments throughout the show. A salute to Buck Owens on the name check in Lookin' Out My Backdoor. Woodstock talk before Who'll Stop the Rain. Paying tribute to his musical influences and heroes before the triple shot of cover songs, Before You Accuse Me, My Baby Left Me and I Heard It Through the Grapevine. The sublime version of Long As I Can See the Light. The baseball bat guitar on Centerfield.  A couple of swamp songs back to back in Green River and Born on the Bayou.

And that was only the first half of the show.

But look at the songs.

Here's the set list with the complete Cosmos Factory in mp3's.

John Fogerty
SONY Center
Toronto ON

Disc 1

t01 Travelin' Band
t02 Lookin' Out My Backdoor (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t03 Ooby Dooby (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t04 Who'll Stop the Rain (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t05 Run Through the Jungle (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t06 Ramble Tamble (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t07 Before You Accuse Me (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t08 My Baby Left Me (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t09 I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t10 Up Around the Bend (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t11 Long As I Can See the Light (Cosmos Factory, 1970)
t12    Centerfield (Centerfield, 1985)
t13    Green River (Green River, 1969)
t14    Born On the Bayou (Bayou Country, 1969)
t15    Don't You Wish It Was True (Revival, 2007)
t16    Gunslinger (Revival, 2007)

Disc 2

t01    The Midnight Special (Willie and the Poorboys, 1969)
t02    Hot Rod Heart (Blue Moon Swamp, 1997)
t03    Rock and Roll Girls (Centerfield, 1985)
t04    Keep On Chooglin' (Bayou Country, 1969)
t05    Lodi (Green River, 1969)
t06    Have You Ever Seen the Rain (Pendulum, 1970)
t07    Pretty Woman
t08    Down On the Corner (Willie and the Poorboys, 1969)
t09    The Old Man Down the Road (Centerfield, 1985)
t10    Fortunate Son (Willie and the Poorboys, 1969)
t11    Hey Tonight (Pendulum, 1970)
t12    Bad Moon Rising (Green River, 1969)
t13    Proud Mary (Bayou Country, 1969)


Monday, September 03, 2012

The Offspring
Echo Beach, Toronto ON
w/ Dead Sara and The Dirty Nil

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first concert I ever attended. In 1972 I saw Alice Cooper at Varsity Stadium, a cozy mid-sized outdoor venue. It was the break-out tour for the #1 hit School's Out but the bulk of the show was still centered around Love It to Death and Killer. There was a lot going on that night, between the excitement of busting my live music cherry, the theatrics of the show, a light drizzle to add to the atmosphere, the 'niceties and accoutrements of live' we imbibed in. Probably been chasing that moment for the past 40 years.

Happy to be still at it. The Offspring were one of the first bands I took my kids to see as they were nearing their teens back in the '90's. We had a spot on the rail for a show at the KOOL HAUS. Tonight my son, just a couple years away from his 30th, is joining me. The circle is unbroken.

Echo Beach is a new venue adjacent to the Molson Amphitheatre in what is now the "Closed for Renovation or Repurposing"  shell of Ontario Place. All GA, exposed to the elements, close to the lake. And it's a real beach, complete with sand. At least it's not raining.

The Dirty Nil, out of the Hammer, open the night at 6:45 pm, staring into the sun. I'm sitting at the bar with Michael, putting away 16 oz of mediocre beer at a cost of $15.00. The sound is great, even from a distance. These guys are filling in for Neon Trees on the Canadian dates. Not everyone can get into this country. Good job. Pop-punk. You'd be happy if you came across them in a bar.

Dead Sara, from L.A., turn it up a notch. Impressivie, aggressive lead female vocal. Bit of a screamo.

The Offspring probably wouldn't rank amongst my choice of the 10 Best Bands but they hold a spot on the 10 Best LIVE Bands list. Guaranteed to bring a smile. Nothing much changes, year after year but I say that in a good way, there's comfort in the familiar. Not that it's totally static.  For the first time since 1997 a show without Intermission. No songs from the first two albums. And a ton from the new record, but not the hit single.

Here's the track list and some sound samples:

The Offspring
"Release the Hostages"
Echo Beach
Toronto ON

t01    Hurting as One  (Days Go By, 2012)
t02    All I Want (Ixnay on the Hombre, 1997)
t03 Come Out and Play (Smash, 1994)
t04 Days Go By (Days Go By, 2012)
t05    Have You Ever  (Americana, 1998)
t06    Staring at the Sun  (Americana, 1998)
t07 Gone Away (Ixnay on the Hombre, 1997)
t08    Turning Into You  (Days Go By, 2012)
t09    Bad Habit  (Smash, 1994)
t10    Gotta Get Away  (Smash, 1994)
t11    OC Guns  (Days Go By, 2012)
t12    Kristy, Are You Doing Okay? (Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace, 2008)
t13 Why Don't You Get A Job? (Americana, 1998)
t14    Dividing by Zero  (Days Go By, 2012)
t15    Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell  (Days Go By, 2012)
t16    You're Gonna Go Far, Kid  (Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace, 2008)
t17    talk
t18 Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)  (Americana, 1998)
t19    The Kids Aren't Alright  (Americana, 1998)
t20    Encore:
t21    Americana  (Americana, 1998)
t22    (Can't Get My) Head Around You (Splinter, 2003)
t23 Self Esteem  (Smash, 1994)

t24 Weatherman (Dead Sara opening band)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012
Grant Park Chicago IL
August 3,4,5,2012

Brought my son along for this one. We haven't had extended time together since we went to Amsterdam for his 19th birthday. While we stayed a safe distance from the SEX part, there was the DRUGS and this weekend closes the trinity by bringing us the ROCK N ROLL. Hope to get the kid out shopping for his girlfriend on the Million Dollar Mile. Scored tickets for the Childish Gambino after-show. Now I'm looking to unload them as Perry Farrell announced a Janes Addiction  aftershow that conflicted. Since that band isn't playing Lolla proper, it took precedence. Mike's taking in a Friday night aftershow with Anamaguchi and we may try to find scalper tickets for Alabama Shakes on Thursday night if we get there soon enough.  Did a little research on Chicago's Summer of the Gun and think we'll try to stay focussed while making our way to and from these shows.

Thursday August 2, 2012

On the road at 7 am and we're only 847 kms away from our destination.  Lunch near Ann Arbor MI then no stopping until we park the car in Chicago.

Found the Hotel 71 on East Wacker and only got lost once. Mike and I cover a few miles, checking out the venue entrance and making our way across the Chicago River to stroll up the Magnificent Mile.

Here's the view from our room:

Friday August 3, 2012

I'm up early on the street, a few photos and breakfast under my belt before the boy even wakes up. It's hot in Chicago, humidex makes it almost 105 degrees. The park has lots of shade though and the Chicago Transit Authority has "cooling buses"...so they are watching out for the fans.

At the Google Play stage we have Animal Kingdom opening the festival. Brit rockers. Songs of social conscience.We're waiting on Anamanaguchi , what can only be described as 'skateboard guitar'...kind of like 'surf guitar' but for a new age. No words. Both bands well-received by large enough crowds for first thing in the day. My son is seeing a reprise of this set at the Congress Theater after-show around midnight.

This festival is much larger than Coachella, spread over more space, with 4 stages that can hold around 40,000 and a half dozen smaller stages. It's work making your way around.

We head over to the main stage for a Dr Dog show. It is a long way, in the blistering sun...did I mention the 105 degree humidex? I saw this band open for The Raconteurs in Montreal back in...ummm, 2006. I was underwhelmed but in fairness to them, the sound was muddy. Enjoyed this set much more. Problem with this band is they don't let the lead guitarist sing ALL the songs. If they did, they'd be terrific. As it is, they are half-terrific, vocals being shared with the bass player.

We're expecting The Verve Pipe to play a small set at the Kidzapaloozo stage so we find ourselves in the shade, on bleacher seats, getting some respite from the brutal sunshine. Turns out the printed schedule is wrong. It'll be tomorrow. Lovely little side-stage set up they have for the kids. A festival within a festival complete with hip-hop workshops, face painting, and musical instruments for the kids to play. We did hear an announcement that Sundays "special guest" will be Perry Farrell of Janes Addiction.

At the other end of the venue playing the Bud Light stage is Canadian band, Metric...and more shade as the quarter mile walk from the Kidz area was enough to melt another layer of skin. Most of what I've seen today has just made me go, "Meh". The sun is beating me down, I need a shower and a massage, not to mention food. Resting up at the hotel proved to be my downfall and my salvation. The lure of Black Sabbath was not enough to get me off the couch. Time to recharge.

Saturday August 4, 2012

On the streets early as the boy is sleeping off his 2 am evening. Some photo's but once again the heat is oppressive. We're supposed to get a smattering of rain around 2:30 pm this afternoon. That'll be welcome respite.

Argggh, I left our hotel without the spare Childish Gambino after show tickets we had. I did find someone wandering the grounds with a Club Gambino t-shirt and he and his buddy wanted to go to the show. We arranged to meet at 8pm when the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be taking the stage. Or so we thought.

Third Man Records artist Jeff the Brotherhood opens the day. Meh. Sometimes I think I'm getting too old for this stuff.

Sitting in the cool shade amongst the kidz, watching tumblers and yoga teachers keep them occupied when some 13 year old comes onstage and makes this whole weekend worthwhile. I've got my taping rig on, waiting for Alabama Shakes and The Tallest Man on Earth to take to the grown up stages, but I'm not recording. Yet. Two songs into this set and I figure I can't let this sound get away.  From the blues mecca New Bedford, Massachusetts, Quinn Sullivan was coaxing some magical sounds out of his Stratocaster. He is playing the break-through set of this festival. Check this kid out, either at his website or on youtube. He's toured with Buddy Guy, played with B B King and he gives no ground to either.

Take in a few minutes of some nondescript band at the Playstation Stage before making my way over to the Bud Light Stage to set up for the Alabama Shakes. This set was my most anticipated set of the weekend. I mean Jack White's here but I've seen him over 30 times, I know what's coming. Passing the speaker banks at the midway point I think it interesting the roadie is taking them down. Repairs? Perhaps they had some static or distortion. No matter, time for a quick beer and some shade before taking position on the right side of the soundboard.

As the roadies cover up the drum set I look to the skies. Seems just fine, very little cloud. I ask the couple next to me if perhaps the roadies know something we don't know.  A few minutes later this splashes on the side-stage screens.

Thing is, nobody moved. I'm telling people it would be a cruel joke to post that picture on a screen where you have 80,000 people milling about...but nobody moved. I wasn't moving either, the Alabama Shakes were coming on in five minutes.

Alas, it was not to be. There was a huge storm bearing down on Chicago, already causing wind damage to the west. With the summer of falling stages we had in 2011 caution was the prudent course. Extremely well organized evacuation. There were three emergency shelters just outside the venue, underground parking garages. Fortunately our hotel was within walking distance of the venue so we didn't have to risk being underground when the rains came in. A quick text to the Gambino twins and they were on their way to our hotel to pick up their tickets.

The storm came in and went out. Within 3 hours we were back in the venue. Missed the Alabama Shakes as they lost their stage position. Passed on the Red Hot Chili Peppers because the schedule was pushed back and we didn't want to be late for Jane's Addiction at the after show. Managed to get back in time to see half of The Tallest Man On Earth . And he was good. Kind of like a Jeff Mangum with energy.

Missed these songs;     
Love Is All
I Won't Be Found
The Gardener
Got part of this song;
There's No Leaving Now
And all of these;
It Will Follow The Rain
Leading Me Now
Wind and Walls
Like the Wheel
King of Spain
The Dreamer (piano version)
Where Do My Bluebirds Fly

We catch about three or four songs from Bloc Party before we're thinking it's time to make our way to The Aragon for Franz Ferdinand and Jane's Addiction. The Red Line takes us to Lawrence station where you step off the train to look right at the  R GO  marquee. It's an historic venue, you'd think someone would replace the bulbs in the A  A  N letters. I love Perry Farrel. Sometimes. Tonight it's a muddy mix and sonic noise. Franz was unremarkable so I have nothing to say about them. All in all a good attempt at something special that just became a late night out.

Sunday August 5 ,2012

My favourite building in Chicago was the Tribune Tower . Amazing architecture made even more interesting by the inclusion of commemorative stones from many historical structures...from Edinburgh Castle to the White House and many even more exotic locations. Here's a detail of a piece from the Pyramid at Giza.

Enough with the walking though, gotta conserve energy.

It's Jack White Day!!! Mike and I go and scope out the condition of the main stage. Happy to see there is a 50 square foot mud pit to the left of the soundboard. I brought my Wellies with me and I suspect not too many people are going to want to be standing in that lake. But that's for later.

We start at the Kidz stage, The Verve Pipe is putting on their half hour set. The mini-venue is packed as a bunch of 20-somethings are in place waiting to hear The Freshman.

That ain't gonna happen. The band has put together a half dozen 'kindie rock' songs. Indie rock for kids. Real music with child friendly lyrics that aren't talking down to them. Think Fraggle Rock.

Wake Up
Complimentary Love
Be a Part of A Band
You Can Write A Song
Hot Soup (Freshman chant from audience)
All You Need Is Love

This time I'm ready for Quinn Sullivan. He doesn't disappoint. My list of favourite guitarists I've seen, which includes Charlie Sexton, Junior Brown, Chris Spedding, Jack White and David Baxter, has just grown by one. This kid is unconscious.

Here's his set:

My Sweet Guitar (Quinn Sullivan)
I Ain't Been Everywhere (But I'm Gettin' There) (Quinn Sullivan)
Cyclone (Quinn Sullivan)
Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix)
Buddy Guy Blues (Quinn Sullivan)
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Eric Clapton)

Stagger over to the BMI stage to catch one of way too many hip-hop artists at this festival. Not a single ska band. Shame. Overdoz was well received by their fans. Both of them.

Time for some rest and dinner. Off to the  Billy Goat Tavern, immortalized by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, for some Cheezeburgers and Pepsi...er, no Pepsi, Coke. Quick rest at the hotel and happy that I've saved some energy for the Sunday night closer, Jack White. My son is over watching Childish Gambino. I know he wishes we'd held on to those tickets and passed on Jane's Addiction. My Bad.

But all that is behind me now as Jack is about to take the stage. I find myself in the middle of the aforementioned mud patch and I can spread my arms out and turn around without touching anybody. The only distraction I have is people who look my way wondering why there's a lot of space until they wander in and slip in the mud. I'm standing 3" deep in this shit. Before it got dark a half-dozen people came over to compliment me on the good choice of footwear. I told them it wasn't my first festival.

So what about Jack? He's been off the touring trail for awhile now. After The White Stripes imploded near the end of 2007 he's had a rather underwhelming run with Dead Weather and a show with The Raconteurs at the Michigan Speedway in 2011 that ranks as the least impressive set I've seen from him. He's had some tough times. Following in Bob Dylan's footsteps he married a model. Didn't work out. (Reference also Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. When are these guys going to learn that just because you are the current weeks rock-god and the models are throwing themselves at you, it may not be the best choice.) His son is cute as a button though.

Jack is loud. If we were in a club my ears would be bleeding. I prefer the girl band to the boy band. The set opens with The Los Buzzardos backing Jack. High energy songs. Not a lot of melody. We open with Sixteen Saltines, a song inspired by his daughter. Some cute lyrics, a sonic blow out. Followed by Black Math, which is hard to decipher at the best of times and the subtleties, such as they may be, are lost in the wall-of-sound treatment. Missing Pieces is a nice song from the new record. Nice sounding that is. Subject matter is another question.

I'm not sure about Blunderbuss. It's a little self-serving as a 'break up record', not unlike Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, mean spirited and perhaps misogynistic. Jack really is trying to become Bob. If he marries his black support singer and goes religious, it's a done deal. The one quote that stood out from his post-divorce Rolling Stone interview was..."Monogamy is not for me." Well, Jack, that's a deal-breaker in most marriages. Listening to this record you get the impression most of the fault lay on the other side. Not that art has ever been fair.

The show starts to take shape with the tour debut of Wasting My Time. Early Stripes, my favourite era. The full band treatment makes these songs different, some of them much improved. On others it just reminds you how great the duo were, that they could fill an arena with sound.

Back to a trio of sonic noise. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground has moved quite a ways down the setlist. It's followed by Hypocritical Kiss and then a real staple of the Stripes show, the Cannon medley, this time with Nitro and John the Revelator.

The show has been a little uneven up to this point but it's about to take off on an upward trajectory culminating in a post-show chant that makes it's way out to North Michigan Ave and beyond.

 Two Against One (Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi) is a lovely little word-play tune.  Maybe the closest Jack comes to admitting he was part of the relationship issues. The Same Boy You've Always Known is another great blast from the past. The boy group gets to close out with two complex, subtle songs, showing another side of themselves.

Band change comes during Take Me With You When You Go as Ruby Amanfu takes over some vocals and the players change genders. They move right into the seductive but creepy single  Love Interruption and the crowd goes wild. This trio of songs is closed out with another tune from the record, Weep Themselves To Sleep. I don't get this one yet.

The highlight of the evening is the country song, Hotel Yorba, with fiddle. Perfect. A song I'd become bored of in The White Stripes catalogue but it has a new life now. Top Yourself is also put in a new light as Jack asks each girl in the band how she's going to rock herself to sleep after he gives up his midnight creep...leading into their solo. Great stuff.

And now back to the sonic assault as a Screwdriver intro to Blue Blood Blues leads us into Ball and Biscuit and the encore break.

The trouble with encores that aren't really encores is the fans tend to be a little lackluster. Jack and band come back onstage to a rousing round of semi-silence. "Are you still out there?" he asks, before ripping into Steady As She Goes, Hardest Button to Button, Freedom 21 and Seven Nation Army to close out the festival.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

CR Squared, The Hard Way
Corin Raymond's Bookworm
The Cameron House, Toronto ON 4 pm
CR Avery at Williamsford Books, Durham ON 8:00 pm

Finally get to double up on my CR quotient. It's going to take a few miles to accomplish this one.

On the road at 11:00 am for a 1 hour ride to the northwest of Toronto where we're having lunch and visiting with our sister-in-law. She's a semi-retired educator and she's really going to get a kick out of Corin's love of reading. Another hour on the road gets us to the Cameron House in time for a drink and a chat before we're treated to 50 minutes of prose on prose. And some stuff about comic books.

Follow this link for a brief of  Bookworm.

London Free Press review

Corin is taking this show out west where he'll be doing what looks like 9 days at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and a handful of dates farther west. It'll be available in Southern Ontario in late October and early November if you pay attention.

Can't really tell you too much as it would take some the edge off the performance. Suffice it to say it covers a lot of topics from father-son bonds to Greek Myths; from Spiderman to zealot mothers; from long road trips to the escaping via Ray Bradbury.

CR Avery is writin' another book. Came in last week for a couple shows, took off to Cuba for some Rest&Relaxation&'Ritin'. Swung through eastern Ontario and Quebec when he got back and is saying good-bye at the wonderful cafe and bookstore in Williamsford ON. As we leave the Cameron at 5:15 pm we have 3 hours, minimum, left to go. Fortunately CR is in the back seat so we're not going to be late.

The evening starts with an open mic where 4 or 5 locals treat us to some spoken word pieces ranging in topic from a sad dog story to a love/hate relationship with Toronto.

CR is getting ready to leave the poems and songs from 38 Bar Blues behind. He's got a burlesque show coming east in November and he's starting to work on the pieces that will be in the new book.
So it was a treat to get Birdcage, The Boxer Who Just Returned From London, and PET tonight.

4 AM Text is gonna kill when it follows a naked woman.

Problem with the piano tonight - out of tune. Problem with the banjo tonight - tuning peg was broken at Customs. No problem for CR who makes half his show an unplugged performance on guitar. Always something different.

Set list

Sylie (Leadbelly)
Blame It On My Troubled Youth
Cain and Abel
4AM Text
I Know I'm On To Something
My Bad
Doll House and Pocketknife
That's It For This Cowboy
World Gone Wrong
Boxer Who Just Returned From London

So 1 1/2 hours on the road north to Tobermory where we can recover.

Total distance: 413 km

Total time on the road: 6 1/2 hours

Total performance time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Time well wasted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Beach Boys
Molson Amphitheatre
Toronto ON

Saw Brian Wilson in the cozy confines of Massey Hall a couple of years ago. That was nice. This was great. They are The Beach Men now but who among us is what they were 50 years ago? With Lake Ontario at our backs on this hot, muggy night on the cusp of summer, this is as close to a surfin' safari as I'm likely to get.

First and foremost this is an emotive band. Not in the 'emo' way the current generation of shoe-gazers have hoisted on us. There was  time , BC (before cobain), when music stirred positive emotions in people.

The Boys were a terrific flashback. Some of the lyrics have changed though...you know, the passage of time. "Help Me Rhonda, help me get her outa my heart" is now "Help Me Rhonda, help me get up offa this couch," the Little Deuce Coupe is now a Little Deuce Scooter©, Good Vibrations is all about marital aides.... most of that I could accept. Thought they stretched the bounds of decorum when they closed with, "we'll have gums, gums, gums, when my baby puts her dentures away." I jest.

Highlights of the evening: Opening the second set with the surviving members huddled around Brian's piano to sing Add Some Music to Your Day. Brian's rendition of  I Just Wasn't Made for These Times was powerful.

The back and side screens were filled with ancient pictures of young versions of the boys. Special tribute was paid to Dennis and Carl Wilson during Forever and God Only Knows.

The surf songs and pop hits were all met with wild screams and dancing in the aisles.

Sloop John B is one of my favourite songs by this band and together with Good Vibrations, really made the night for me.

One thing that occurred to me is that as I get older my hearing seems to be slowing down.

All night long I had Billy Joe Armstrong in my head, evoking the band to PLAY FASTER.

Set One
Do It Again
Little Honda
Catch a Wave
Don't Back Down
Surfin' Safari
Surfer Girl
Then I Kissed Her
(The Crystals cover)
Kiss Me, Baby
Getcha Back
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
(Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers cover)
When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)
Disney Girls
Please Let Me Wonder
Isn't It Time
It's OK
California Saga: California
Cotton Fields
(Lead Belly cover)
Be True to Your School
Don't Worry Baby
Little Deuce Coupe
Shut Down
I Get Around

Set Two
Add Some Music to Your Day
Heroes and Villains
Sloop John B
Wouldn't It Be Nice
I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
Sail On Sailor
In My Room
All This Is That
That's Why God Made the Radio
God Only Knows
Good Vibrations
California Girls
All Summer Long
Help Me Rhonda
Rock and Roll Music
(Chuck Berry cover)
Do You Wanna Dance?
(Bobby Freeman cover)
Surfin' USA
Barbara Ann
(The Regents cover)
Fun, Fun, Fun

Sunday, June 10, 2012

CR Avery
The Brownstone Cafe
Orillia ON

2 hours on the road with cottage weekend traffic and classic blues on the player.  2 housrs drinkin' and chattin' with my wife and the artist. 45 minutes of music and words. 1 1/4 hours back home on the major roads and testing the limits of speed and my endurance.

Not a bad way to use up 6 hours on a Friday.

The Brownstone Cafe in Orillia is a terrific local waterhing hole. If it were in Toronto it would feel at home on Queen St West. Friendly staff, local beers and a conflicted attitude towards live music. Actually not conflicted, more polarized. Front of house was populated by attentive fans of music. Rear of house was populated by your regular local Friday night crowd that didn't have to pay a cover. Pretty evenly split.

In the end it was a draw.

CR steps into the ring knowing it's going to be bloody. An opening beat-box harminica salvo of Leadbelly's Sylvie has some success in focussing the crowd. Front half enraptured, rear half somewhat perplexed at the cacophony emanating from the stage but not yet lubricated enough to overcome it or disreagard it.

CR Avery: 1  Bar: 0

Not willing to risk any downtime CR swings into Maggies Farm. The front of the house is still mezmerized, this time by the PJ Shadow piano riff in place of the harmonica. Back of house thinks it's akin to race music and begins to assert itself. Aged but comical in a libertarian kind of way, drunk bar-fly can be heard commenting, "This is my bar," in response to requests to shhhhhh.

CR Avery: 1 Bar:0  Tied: 1

Boxer usually stops everybody dead in their tracks. Not so tonight. Front of house was attentive and laughing at all the right times. Rear of house was lost and loud. CR even called out to them in the middle of this piece, to no avail.

CR Avery: 1 Bar: 1 Tied: 1

Time to  venture into the snake pit. CR picks up his banjo and makes his way to the center of the talkin' crowd. Up close and in your face they had no choice but to tone it down a touch. This one worked. The show could have gone any way from here. It unraveled for all but those in the front.

CR Avery: 2 Bar: 1 Tied: 1

Time for something a little different. If CR really wanted to hold the audience he would have broken out Stairway to Heaven or some Abba tune...but nooooo, that would be too easy. With copper mic in hand and a new beat courtesy of his plugged-in iPhone, CR tears into Voodoo Child and the rear of house checks out.

CR Avery: 2 Bar: 2 Tied: 1

CR rips off a frenetic KKK. Everyone could have walked out and this would still be a win in CR's book for the performance alone. A tree falling in the forest with no one near.

CR Avery: 3  Bar: 2  Tied: 1

One more time into the audience, with the guitar and a new song from East Van, 4 AM Text. By this time the rear of house had moved beyond ignorant to belligerent. The bar-fly was so loud a friend of his walking by outside the venue heard him and came in to reminisce. The skater dude (who would later knock over a lamp while trying to stagger out of the venue with his oversized board) thought the last song was a call-and-response for him. Except his responses were boorish grunts.

CR Avery: 3 Bar: 3 Tied: 1

Maybe it wasn't a draw. The last volley goes to CR. Show's over.

Maggies Farm
Boxer Who Just Returned From London
Hollywood Movie Blues
Voodoo Child
4 AM Text (Happy Valentines)

CR Avery and Friends
The Cameron House

CR is on a fastbreak tour, 2 shows in So Ont before he takes a week off to work on new material while basking on the beaches of Cuba. He's more likely to be busking on the beaches. He does like Fidel Castro and his beard though.

Support tonight comes courtesy of the spoken-world underground in TO. David Silverberg, by day a mild-mannered digital journalist,by night the Grand Pookbah of the Toronto Poetry Slam Circle, is hosting.

David opens with a piece on opening up to strangers, likely called, The Story of Frank Warren and Post Secrets and tossed in a haiku about a startling street person with a Jesus complex. He introduces Robert Priest, Amanda Hiebert, Lara Bozabalian and Evalyn Parry.  Priest reminded us of the nobility of not fighting while Evalyn tackled the issue of self-identity in these post-modern times.

CR Avery is...well, as always, challenging. Comes out of the box strong with his Maggies Farm mashup, sliding into the piano ballad homage to Amy Winehouse and other artists who fell, Israel's Saviour and Queen. He's feeling the harp tonight and rolls out Springsteen's 57 Channels and Hendrix's Voodoo Child

Got some new songs, 4AM Text showcased CR doing an unplugged guitar tune. Don't think I've seen CR pick up a guitar in over 30 performances I've witnessed. This song is fun and I hope it sticks around for the tour. The second unplugged song of the night is the banjo tune, Rednecks and Dykes.
Gotta love CR's social commentary songs; got a problem with gays, homeless people, liberals, revolutionaries, outsiders??? Well, fuck you, you're a douchebag.

What might have been called Bonfire Orgasm was another new song for Cece and I. Not too often you get a saw in a show. A little eerie background for what is like the Guernica of word. Hard to see/hear it all the first time through. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are evoked.

The show closes with a dedication to MCA and Levon Helm, recently deceased, That's It For This Cowboy, an end of the road tale.

CR Avery and Friends
The Cameron House

David Silverberg - The Story of Frank Warren and Post Secrets
Amanda  Hierbert - You've Been Calling Me
Robert Priest - Muhammed Ali
David Silverberg - (haikku)
Lara Bozabalian - Victor Hugo
Evalyn Parry - They Thought I Was A Boy

CR Avery

Maggies Farm
Israel's Saviour and Queen
57 Channels and Nothing On
4 AM Text (Happy Valentines)
Bonfire Orgasm (Cathy Petch on Saw)
Voodoo Child
Rednecks and Dykes
That's It For This Cowboy (Dedicated to MCA and Levon Helm)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Corin Raymond
The Cameron House
w/ guests
Miss Quincy and the Showdown

The wife and I are celebrating our 33rd anniversary tonight. In the recent past we've had the good fortune to be in Paris one year, Venice another, New Orleans on two occasions, BC and NB...this year, we're upgrading.

I'm getting to really enjoy walking through the red curtains into the dark and inviting confines of the front room. Every Thursday brings a new living room experience. Tonight we're missing Treasa Levasseur and David Baxter, both in Hamilton thrilling the patrons at The Pearl Company. In their stead we have fiddler, Trent Freeman, a BC expat recently relocated in Toronto and on the piano we have Mike Evan. Brian Kobayakowa and Corin Raymond flesh out The Auxillary Sundowners, May 10th, 2012 version.
One night only, don't you dare miss it!

In November of this year Corin Raymond will be releasing his third album, Paper Nickels, featuring the songs of numerous 'small time' artists; great songs by people you may not know. The album buzz will circle around the trailer park love song that is at the heart of the Canadian Tire Caper, Don't Spend It Honey, but the whole thing will be killer. Songs from the record that were showcased this evening: 100 Candles (I can SEE that beach), Anastasia (my favourite song of the week for 17 weeks running), Old Fort Mac (Vaarmeyer writes some of the best pop-hooks in Canadian roots music), Nine Inch Nails (she moved to Montreal, well eventually don't they all?) and the aforementioned anthem to paper nickels.

Thursday night at The Cameron, with Corin hosting,  is the musical equivalent of Bits N Bites. Every time out it's something different, something unique. Tonight's set is enhanced greatly by the lovely piano fills provided by Mike Evan. These songs won't be done the same way ever again.

When the full band is not out we tend to get some surprises in the set list.

Tonight we have two Jessie Winchester covers; Isn't That So and That's What Makes You Strong...dedicated to my wife and I. Corin's also added a song by local artists The Warped 45's, the topical Progress, a testament to the insanity of uber-consumerism.

Filling in between sets we have  Miss Quincy and the Showdown who are stopping over in Toronto on their way home from a European tour. A sassy trio and an eclectic little break.

t01    Intro
t02    100 Candles (Swiftys)
t03    Anastasia (Max Metro)
t04    The Law and the Lonesome (Raymond/Byrd)
t05    Ridin' West on Dundas (Raymond)
t06    Isn't That So (Jessie Winchester)
t07    That's What Makes You Strong (J Winchester)
t08    Hard on Things (Raymond/Vaarmeyer)
t09    Progress (The Warped 45's)
t10    Stealin' My Heart (Raymond)
t11    3,000 Miles (Raymond)

Miss Quincy and the Showdown

t01    Intro
t02    Nobody With You
t03 Dead Horse
t04 You're Mama Don't Like Me

Corin Raymond

t12    Intro
t13    Old Fort Mac (Rob Vaarmeyer)
t14    Something to Lean On
t15    Nine Inch Nails
t16    Hello Hello (Raymond)
t17    Canadian Tire Update -talk
t18    Don't Spend It Honey (Raymond/Vaarmeyer)
t19    "I Have the New Total, I Must Call the Wall St Journal immediately!"
t20    There Will Always Be A Small Time (Raymond)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coachella 2012
Indio CA
April 13 & 14,2012

I know a thing or two about big festivals. The most important thing I know is that I can't endure 3 days on my feet in the blistering sun.

I'm setting off to Southern California with one goal...don't burn yourself out to the point you can't enjoy the trip. With that in mind, I'm doing only two days and limiting myself to bands I really want to see.

That means I'll be in early (GIRLS and Dragonette) and out early (sorry Black Keys and Radiohead).

Sunday is reserved for the mountains and valley and a little time alone.

I haven't travelled on my own since...well, never now that I think about it. It's going to be a challenge navigating without my trusty companion. It's been a long year dealing with health issues and she's not able to join me on this trip.

Think I'll stay on the main roads.

The set times aren't out as I pre-write in this space. My schedule looks like this...barring conflicts.

Friday : Arctic Monkeys, GIRLS, James, Jimmy Cliff, Madness, Mazzy Star, PULP, and The Sheepdogs. Madness is the 'can't miss' set.

Saturday : Azealia Banks, Buzzcocks, Dragonette, Jeff Mangum, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Squeeze and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Jeff Mangum is the 'can't miss' set.

My own personal favourite is Squeeze. Saw them open for Costello in '78, 'bout time I got another listen. Jimmy Cliff and Arctic Monkeys I've seen before and will enjoy their sets I am sure. After that comes a half of Oasis, so you know I'm running out of enthusiasm for the acts.

But I'm going to find a space to rejuvenate and enjoy. It's my mission.

Meet up with Doug, Eric and Susan...from NC, Seattle and San Francisco, respectively. Palm Springs has closed off a good 10 blocks of their main strip and converted it into a pedestrian mall. We find our way to a bar named Hair of the Dog, where a night of drinking (including an on-the-house flaming shot glass dropped into a glass of beer) came out to only $28.00. Happy hour runs from 11 am to whenever. Gotta like that.


Day 1

I start by doing what I do best on the road; I see dead people.

So the set times are out. Conflicts? Yes, Mangum and Squeeze are at the same time. But let's see what happens.

First off a tip of the hat to the organizers. This venue is wonderful.

You know that song, It Never Rains In Southern California? Well, it's wrong. It hasn't rained in 13 years of Coachella, until Friday April 13, 2012. Coincidence? I think not. In this case it wasn't bad luck...it's the sun that will kill you in the desert. The wind was brutal! Even that wasn't bad news because it freed me from taping and made the whole event a lot more fun.

In early, that's my motto, and I always pull out before it's over. I don't advertise that part so much.

Friday starts with Mea in the Sahara tent. This is the dance tent that most of the kids stay in until 2 am. Dance ain't my strong suit. It's not even my sweatsuit. The tent was half full, which wasn't bad for the first and only act on at this time. The lead singer was a cutie. Time well wasted. Glanced briefly at Abe Vigoda, who I thought was dead, before I settled in for a complete set by The Sheepdogs.

Remember The Sheepdogs? They won some kind of populist rural wanna be The Guess Who contest that landed them on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Keep riding that wave while you can boys. I suspect when the summer festival season comes to a close we won't see you outside Saskatchewan for awhile.

Caught a bit of another band with a cutie in front, honeyhoney. You got a chick with a mandolin and a fiddle...what more could you want. Decent pop music, easy to absorb, great background music at a fondue night.

I ate.

Then things start getting good.

James was getting Laid on the main stage. What a feel-good set. Second song in, Sit Down,was the highlight with the lead singer in the audience getting his bald head rubbed by adoring fans while singing, " those who feel the breath of sadness, sit down next to me / those who find they're touched by madness, sit down next to me / Those who find themselves ridiculous, sit down next to me..." Makes you feel all Woodstocky inside.

Laid from youtube

Jimmy Cliff's set was threatened by the howlin' winds. For a moment there I didn't think he'd take the stage. But he did. And his set was bombastic. A light sprinkling of rain and some dark clouds didn't dampen the mood at all. In fact, his rendition of I Can See Clearly Now was a joyous FUCK YOU to the weather gods. My personal favourite was a tear-inducing version of Many Rivers To Cross. This guy still has a voice. Don't mistake him for an artifact. His political passion is as strong now as it was when he rode the charts with The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall. His current topical song Vietnam (and Afghanistan) is as valid as anything spewed out in the '60's. A strong One More closed the show.

I slide over a stage to listen a bit to GIRLS but didn't hear anything that was enticing me to stay so it was a quick break before lining up for 3 Arctic Monkeys songs. I've seen the Chilly Chimps plenty of times so I wasn't going to miss Madness to catch all their set.

One Step Beyond

(Picture courtesy of Doug Evans)

Ska is so joyous.

(Cue Sheet courtesy of Doug Evans)

And Madness brought the whole catalogue.

During It Must Be Love, I ran into a little bit of the trials and tribulations of stealth taping. The ska circle had been growing throughout the show and during this song one of the more exuberant dancers, part of a couple dressed in safari gear and pith helmets, came over to my position to pull me into the circle. I insisted I wasn't moving, which I thought was a big concession on my part because when I'm taping I seldom talk. He was persistent. And friendly. I think he mistook my white-guy-taping-bob-and-weave as a sign I wanted to let loose, without realizing that was me letting loose. Finally pulled me out. I grabbed my recorder out of my pocket (excuse the mic bumps) and held it over my head as I was swept around the circle...doing my best to point at a PA system.

After the set I texted my son to let him in on the happenings only to find him at a 4th wave ska show featuring the Planet Smashers and about to enter the pit himself. Go figure.

Here's some sound samples from my back up rig, internal mics, I usually only use it in acoustic small venue shows, a bit bassy but that may be my old ears...oh,and lots of phasing.

One Step Beyond


The Prince

My Girl

Sun and the Rain

Iron Shirt

Shut Up

Bed and Breakfast Man

Forever Young

House of Fun

Wings of A Dove

Baggy Trousers

Our House

It Must Be Love


Night Boat to Cairo

Day 2

Up bright and early for a short photo trip up to Desert Hot Springs and along the valley road. Just being here is wonderful...if windy.

On my way back to the hotel I find the canyon valley road and it leads me into the windmill farm that covers the pass between the mountains...where all the wind goes.

At the venue for gate-opening and I'm at the Mojave Tent to see The Tijuana Panthers . Great start to the day. A mix of influences, from punk to ska to surf. Am adding them to my list of 'bands to see if they come through town'...though on first look it seems they don't stray too far from the west coast. Maybe when they're finished school.

Catch ten minutes of a lively pop group called honeyhoney before I set up in front of Australian band Suedehead for their set. Good time waster but nothing to write home about.

A brief stop at the Heineken tent for some libations while I wait for We Were Promised Jet Packs to come on the 2nd stage. They open with a shoe-gazer so I'm
off to visit the Gobi Tent where aged punk-rockers (you'll notice a pattern soon) The Vaccines take the stage to The Ramones Rock n Roll Radio. This was a fun set, rapid paced 3 minute songs, one after the other. Just like it should be.

I hang around for the break-out act of this year's Coachella. This weekend used to create the buzz for bands. It's past that now, it's simply a glorious event...no longer a stage for the new wave of music gods. In fact, since around 2006, it usually celebrates the old wave. What was once unique (festivals) is now how summer music is done. That hasn't helped as the demand to fill the Lollapaloozers, Bonnaroo's etc. has watered down the festivals somewhat and taken the shine off the possibility of finding the next gem of an artist.

But they are still out there. This year it's in the guise of internet phenom Azealia Banks. She catapulted to this mid-afternoon slot on the strength of her million hits for the youtube version of 212. She left this weekend after landing a management contract with Lady Ga Ga's manager. She has arrived. Drop your socks and ... get ready to be wowed.
The instant she stepped on stage she was taken aback by the raucous cheers of a way too exuberant early day crowd. It put her on her heels a bit, she stuttered, she laughed, she thanks the crowd and launches into her set. It is concussively loud. Terrific song about Barbie...not the doll, but the dolls they are trying to sell you on TV and concert stages... the ones with all too much plastic. I had to leave the tent shortly after this to make sure my ears weren't bleeding. The BASS was moving the ground.
212 was a love-fest to close, Azealia almost in tears as the crowd treats the song like it's Stairway to Heaven, singing back the rapid rap rhymes to the artist.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were doing a nice imitation of a Melissa Etheridge/Joan Jett clone...good hard rock with a female lead. And they were close to the Heineken tent too.

While sitting there, preparing for what was going to be a busy close to the night, I caught wind of Childish Gambino's X-rated set on the main stage. That guy has a dirty mouth. Keep your daughter's away from him.

Back to the Gobi tent for an aged punk rock band, fIREHOSE, onstage in front of another aged punk band, Buzzcocks.

Diggle and Shelley. Orgasm Addict, I Believe and Homosapiens...without all the synth background that ruined a thousand good songs in the early '80's.

I Believe video from youtube

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds waited a long fucking time to play a recognizable Oasis song. Not only will I not look back in anger, I won't look back at all.

So all week I've been fretting over the choice between recluse Jeff Mangum and seeing Squeeze. Changed my mind a dozen times. Finally settled on half a set each. And that was a wrap for the night.

Jeff Mangum Aeroplane Over the Sea from youtube

Day 3

A full breakfast at 7 am and I'm on the road, up a narrow mountain path with banked curves and not much margin for error. I think I've been up this road before...once or thrice. I expect I'll meet my demise on a road like this and my last thoughts will be..."Damn, I thought there was more room on the shoulder." They may get me, but it won't be here, and it won't be today.

While stopping for lunch I found out that Elvis' honeymoon shack was located in Palm Springs. I found it.

I've been toying with the idea of taking the Tramway 6,000 ft up into the San Jacinto mountains. While I'm not big on heights I thought it would provide a nice opportunity for photos from a unique perspective. Fortunately I watch a tram leave before I bought my ticket.

They were packed in there like sardines and if there's one thing I hate more than heights, it's being enclosed in small places. I passed and made my way to Joshua Tree for more dead people.

I was in New Orleans back in 2010 and took a trip to Gram Parsons grave. There were people who didn't want him to be buried there and that makes Joshua Tree National Park, Cap Rock, a uniquely special place in the rock pantheon.

The cement slab he was semi-cremated on has been moved to the Joshua Tree Inn, a few miles from the park itself. It is a little morbid for a family outing. At Cap Rock fans persist in marking their territory.

The rest of the park is lovely too...and big. You could spend a day in here just driving to the different locations.
Took a road up to the 5,000 ft elevation at Keys Point (I believe) just to look down over Palm Springs in the valley.

So that's a wrap. Two of my favourite things in one weekend. Live music and a little road time. Now I'm going home to get a little of the third of my favourite things.